As others see it: Constitution has education mandateTake a good look at the state Constitution. The Legislature has two jobs — fund schools and fund the state trunk highways. That’s it.
By: Winona Daily News, Worthington Daily Globe
Take a good look at the state Constitution. The Legislature has two jobs — fund schools and fund the state trunk highways. That’s it. No pet projects, no debating abortion, just two jobs. And recently, it hasn’t done those very successfully. ...
This week, we learned the state was going to withhold part of its payment to schools. Keep in mind this is money that the state government already promised — budgets have been finished. Keep in mind that the Legislature also controls how many days schools must operate. It’s not like a cutback in funding can mean schools just close.
That’s probably a good thing, though. We’re not going to push our children ahead in the world economy with fewer classroom hours. And we’re not going to achieve high-quality results by withholding money schools were counting on.
This latest withholding comes on top of public school funding that has already been slashed and shifted. In addition to the cuts the districts have gotten as the economy has worsened, in addition to property values heading south, the state for years has only given schools a certain percentage of the money it has pledged and delayed payment for a year or so. It’s called a “funding shift,” and it’s one of the more pernicious budgeting tricks the state uses to balance its budget. But it does so on the backs of school children. ...
In the short term, there’s little that can be done. In the long term, this represents a very real loophole that needs to be closed in Minnesota law.
First, stop the funding shifts that allow the state to delay payments to school districts. Pay for schools as we go.
Finally, make it illegal to cut school funding on such short notice. School districts have no other choice but to borrow money to meet contractual commitments. ...
Winona Daily News